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Posts Tagged ‘open

One of the initiatives I led when I was a faculty member was using open learning tools and resources.

While administrators of academic institutions lock information down with the help of publishers, I countered with open publishing. While instructors concerned themselves with strict copyright and intellectual property rights, I pushed open source and Creative Commons resources.
 

 
I still model this mindset and behaviour by using ImageCodr to embed and attribute CC-licensed images almost every day in this blog. I create and share resources for my talks, workshops, and classes with open and non-expiring tools.

I am not always aware of the reach of these resources because they do not have trackers. However, sometimes I find out via my blog that they are making an impact.

Recently two of my blog reflections received an unusual number of hits. One was Remaking the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy while the other was Dumbfounded (Part 2). Using the WordPress dashboard, I could link the hits to visitors from Cambodia and Egypt respectively.

I was curious as to why, but did not have any answers because the dashboard results were not fine-grained enough.

Thankfully, an educator from Cambodia contacted me to ask for editing rights to my revision of Bloom’s Verb Wheel. She wanted to convert the words to Khmer. As I use that resource actively, I said I could provide a copy as long as the subsequent resources were shared under similar CC licenses.

But I have no idea why so many Egyptians were interested in my critique of a poorly conceived, badly written, and irresponsibly broadcasted programme on Channel News Asia.

The bottomline is this: Those of us in education should share as openly as we can. The people I reached would not have been helped if the resources were not available to them via a quick Google search. We have a responsibility that extends beyond our classrooms and borders.
 

I read this article yesterday, The Fallacy of Open-Access Publication.

Before anyone processes the problems with some current implementations of “open” access publications, they need to be aware of an even more fundamental problem. The article described it succinctly and accurately:

Publishers are getting rich on the backs of underfunded academic libraries and the unpaid labor of academics who serve as editors, reviewers, and authors. That system is unsustainable.

Anyone who thinks that being a professor is living high up on the food chain does not understand the academic ecosystem. Professors have to buy in to a culture and live with rules long established before they were.

How bad has the situation become with publishers driven only by profit?

Open access has turned out to be a misnomer… open access is clearly not freely open to the scholars who are required to pay exorbitant fees to publish their results, often out of their own pockets. Graduate students who wish to publish two open-access articles a year in the journals of their choice might need to use more than a quarter of their annual income to do so, if they don’t have large grants to cover the fees.

How might scholars stop this rot? The author of the article suggested that scholars supported academic or scientific societies that were non or low-profit. These groups pursue the betterment of their fields, not the profiteering by publishing companies. Let’s not make the open access cookie crumble.
 

 
We need to question the belief that once you put something online, it is there forever and for all to see. This is not true all the time.

You can blog or tweet or upload a video on YouTube. But no one might view it, much less respond to it.

You might maintain public wishlists, video playlists, or audio shares that no one sees, watches, or listens to.

Dropbox recently changed its public folder policy. HTML pages will no longer be sharable so you cannot run a low-traffic website out of Dropbox.

As of October 3, 2016, you can no longer use shared links to render HTML content in a web browser. If you created a website that directly displays HTML content from your Dropbox, it will no longer render in the browser.

Just because something is online does not immediately make it visible, sharable, or valuable.

But post a naughty photo or say something stupid, and potential employers and the authorities might shut doors on you.

So it is not enough to say “be careful online” or “do not put things online”. These generic rules, even if illustrated with cases, are not meaningful. Only what connects with each owner and creator of the content as well as their intended and unintended audiences are meaningful.

Last week I volunteered for a school’s career guidance event for students. The students chose who they wanted to interview in half-hour intervals and we shared our hearts out.

A teacher inserted himself into my group’s discussion. As we meandered from one topic to another, that teacher declared this about his students: “They prefer pen and paper.”

No, they do not. Students have been conditioned to accepting them. The Principal of Change articulated this in a recent blog entry:

many of our students are so used to “school” that something outside the lines of what they know terrifies them just as much as any adult. If school has become a “checklist” for our students (through doing rubrics, graduation requirements, etc.), learning that focuses on creation and powerful connections to learning, not only take more effort, but more time, which sometimes frustrates many students.

 

The problem with... by horrigans, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  horrigans 

 
There is an immediacy to paper which needs to be examined in more ways than one. If you have a notebook or scrap ready, there is quickness of use and illustration that is hard to beat. Some might also value the feel of paper as a form of immediate recognition.

But paper is also immediate in that what happens there immediately stops there. There is no hyperlinking or ease of editing, copying, and sharing. The affordances of paper, as wonderful as they are, also have limited pedagogy: Go where I say, stay where you are, write neatly, do not copy, do not share, etc.

Paper is comforting because it does not push pedagogy to new ground, so schools use a lot of it. Other than the newspaper industry, I do not know any other organization that relies on so much paper. OK, maybe the toilet paper industry.

Ultimately, schools justify the pen and paper mode of instruction because of the pen and paper exams. This is despite the increasingly non-pen and paper life and work that awaits learners when they move on.


Video source

Saying kids prefer pen and paper is like saying they would rather use encyclopedias instead of Google or Wikipedia. (BTW, they know the limitations of those tools better than teachers might expect).

Just ask enough of our kids the same questions the teens were asked in the video above. Their responses might not be as colourful as the ones in the video, but you are likely to get similar responses.

Like the video, you will get a few responses about paper-form books based on nostalgia and tactility. But these come from a place of honesty and passion, not from conditioning by a schooling system that refuses to change. These come from students who learn how to think by themselves instead of providing conditioned responses.

Do we assume nostalgia to be important enough not to change? Do teachers have a right to recreate their own world instead of preparing kids for theirs? I borrow another quote from The Principal of Change in the same blog entry:

if we do not challenge our students in the learning they do in school, what are we preparing them for? What mindset will we actually create in our students? It is important, if not crucial, to really listen and act upon student voice…

How much longer are we going to maintain conditions for “pen and paper” conditioned responses?

Today I help facilitate a free seminar on Creative Commons (CC) in Singapore.

We do not have an ambitious plan and are starting simple to gauge interest and to create ownership of CC efforts.

I anticipate that a few attendees might have questions and experiences that relate to implementation issues. That is, there might be folks who are already sold on the idea and want to take action. So I share some of my limited experiences with rolling out change using my ABC framework (awareness, buy-in, commitment).
 

 
To create awareness, you can organize events like tomorrow’s free seminar. I mentioned yesterday how I also led an e-Fiesta and conducted talks with CC as content.

Some passive but complementary ways of creating awareness might include using media like posters and YouTube videos.

Such efforts can lead to stakeholder buy-in if you manage change well with follow ups like focused conversations and informal meetings.
 

 
The stakeholders you might target first for buy-in at institutes of higher education (IHLs) are key appointment holders and librarians.

Appointment holders can set policy around the creation and sharing of learning resources and research artefacts.

For example, most institutes lay claim to the copyright or intellectual property of any process or product created by its employees. Appointment holders might make some exceptions, say resources created under institute-sanctioned volunteer work, as belonging to their staff and/or open for sharing by default.

Appointment holders could require their institutes to be signatory to open licensing and publishing. The could mean promoting financial grants that have open requirements and then sharing data corpuses, reports, and other related material after a short embargo period.

If they are daring enough, such change leaders might add open efforts to staff appraisals and promotions either as core components or as distinctive X factors.

Institutional libraries are publication gatekeepers. They shape policies for the mode of sharing an institute’s research, books, white papers, monographs, posters, etc. For example, yesterday I shared how my alma mater shared dissertations under CC.

Libraries might consider at least two metrics when considering open or CC initiatives. First, open publications tend to draw more views because they are more accessible. Second, open resources are free or might cost considerably less than those hidden behind paywalls.

What of open initiatives in mainstream schools?

Media resources teachers and educators in charge of digital citizenship are in the best position to promote the use of open or CC-licensed resources. They can teach students how to use CC-enabled search engines more prudently and how to attribute what they use.

If good policies are put in place, instructors at mainstream schools and IHLs might also require learners to use and cite CC-licensed artefacts as part of curricular demands.
 

 
What I have described so far deals with creating awareness (I know) and buy-in (I believe in). What creates commitment (I own it)?

One of the best ways to create commitment to change is for teachers and students to walk the talk. They should give back or “pay it forward” by sharing what they create under open or CC licences. Creators can use this CC licence generator to label and share their work.

I do not recommend extrinsically rewarding such efforts because they should be rewards in themselves. However, there might be room for strategic efforts like contests on CC concepts or learner-led sharing of their CC efforts. These feed the awareness engine for the on-going and iterative efforts to push open learning forward.

Moving from awareness to commitment (ownership) transforms the good-to-know concept of sharing openly to one of better-to-practise. This is the bottom line if you want to share because you care: You cannot think about implementing CC; you must do CC.

I was happy to be a part of a recent edtech event that promised to make resources available to participants. When asked if I would share my resources, I did not hesitate because that is what I do with all my talks and workshops.
 

Closed Sign in Yellowstone by bmills, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  bmills 

 
A week after the event, I received email requesting that participants complete event feedback before getting access to resources.

The organizers are entitled to do this. After all, there are very few truly free meals. But this might be a sign of the creeping back of the old mindset of withholding.

I shared my resources openly on my blog. At my session, I projected URLs on screen and provided participants with stickers with URLs to the resources.

Sharing resources openly and freely sends a more important message than the event itself. An open tool or platform must be used in an open way instead of a closed one. Model and practise closed use and that mindset remains entrenched.

I do not worry about my ideas being stolen because I shared them under a Creative Commons licence (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike). If people abuse it by not acknowledging or crediting, they will be found out and other people will stop listening to them. It will be that obvious and it starts with you being open.

The way to stop a bad cycle is to prevent the wheel from spinning. It is not to add fuel to an engine running on fear and selfishness. It is not to close what is meant to be open.

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Yesterday I reflected on the moral dilemma of playing the research game because it benefits only a few stakeholders. Today I continue with the processes of publishing research.

Most academics review articles and serve on editorial boards because it looks great on their CVs. For a few, this also provides power to lord over others by rejecting papers in the name of “objective” reviews. The same might be said of committees that determine disbursement of funds for research.

But all that is child’s play when compared to the ruse of publishers.

With one hand they pull in reviewers of journal papers for free (it is a service academics provide for one another after all). With the other, the publishers collect money by charging top dollar to libraries, organizations, and individuals who want journal collections or specific papers.

What I have reflected on is not news. In 2002, Frey compared the publishing process to prostitution. PhD Comics had an amusing take on this in 2011.


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The open movement is a disruptive process that threatens the membership and rules of the game of research as currently played.

Open practice champions like Martin Weller do great work in this respect. His recent blog entry on the benefits of being open is a must-read.

Influential bodies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are insisting that research data and publications be shared with the Creative Commons Attribution licence.

A few local universities and agencies have shared some materials openly, but they are an insignificant drop in the research bucket.

Not only is the rest of published research is not so freely shared, researchers are complicit by playing to the rules set by publishers, universities, and grant bodies.

If you are not an academic, you should be morally outraged. If you are, you should reflect critically on the state of the playing field.


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